Libbys on the Loose:2 Humans. 2 Great Danes. 1 RV.: July 2015

Friday, July 24, 2015

Norcold RV Refrigerator "no co" Error Code reset instructions

For the second time since we've had the Holiday Rambler, we've got the dreaded "no co" error code on the digital display of our Norcold unit.  We nearly lost all our food the last time and I'm not currently sure that the food will survive this time - crossing my fingers.  So, apparently the way this happens is either the fridge did not complete its last cooling cycle, the fridge was jostled or off-level by a large amount, or poor ventilation.

Lower vent is where you access lower rear
of the fridge.
I knew that it wasn't poor ventilation.  I've been keeping a fan in the top compartment of the rear of the fridge blowing air out of the vents.  Since warmer air moves upward due to convection currents, the fan speeds up that process thereby helping the fridge to cool faster operate for shorter periods of time.  This is especially important for staying in warmer climates.

I'm not sure how you interrupt the cooling cycle of the fridge.  When we unhook from shore power, we don't turn off the fridge.  Since we keep the fridge set on "Auto", it switches between AC power and propane gas (LP) automatically when it senses AC power loss.  Anyone with any insight on this, I would appreciate feedback via a comment!


Behind refrigerator lower portion - The black
box on the left is where the control board is
located
The only possibility (again, I don't know the actual cause to why this happened either last time or this time) that I can think of is that we switched out the propane when we left our last campground.  So, if the fridge was in the middle of a cooling cycle (which makes sense) and was on LP, then it's likely that it didn't have pressure in the line to feed LPG to the fridge.  This is the most likely cause  - we just haven't been able to verify it as the specific reason.

So, how, exactly, do you bypass this error?  First off, if it's the first time the error came up, chances are that you can just turn the power off to the fridge and turn it back on.  According to the Norcold manual, this should do a "soft" reset of the board and eliminate the code.  However, if this is not the first time the code has come up, it will probably be necessary to do a "hard-wire" reset.  The procedure for this is neither difficult or intimidating.  The biggest thing is that you will need to ensure that you follow the disconnect/reconnect instructions to a 'T'.

First, you will want to locate to vent for the lower area of the fridge.  This is located directly behind (outside) the lower part of the refrigerator.  Undo the fasteners by turning the top part 45 degrees in either direction.  The top will come out followed by the bottom (held in with slot-tabs).  Set the cover aside for now.

Refrigerator Control Board
The control board is covered by a black plastic cover that is on the left side of the unit (as you look at it from the rear).  Remove the hex screws to access the circuit board.  Don't be alarmed!   If you don't have any electrical experience at all, you'll still be just fine.  This is a very simple (you won't get shocked if you follow the instructions!).  That being said, with anything electrical, there is always a risk of shock.  Have a set of insulated handled needle nose pliers.  This will simplify things for you.  Now that you're looking at the control board, either take a picture of how everything is currently connected, or make sure that you write down what wires go where.  The wires that we will be disconnecting are as follows:  12vdc hot wire (Red wire connected to tab labeled 12vdc on board) 12vdc ground wire (White wire connected to tab next to large cylinder on bottom right of board), 110VAC (unplug fridge from electrical outlet), solenoid gas valve wires (two white wires between 12VDC hot and ground wires) and lastly, the spark/sense electrode wire (connected to large black cylinder on bottom right - be VERY careful removing this wire.  Make sure you don't bend it to the left or right.  Pull straight out).
This procedure is also outlined in the image from the service manual below

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Sky Island Retreat & Campground Review - Old Fort, NC

Sky Island Retreat & Campground
Website
88 Flatlander Drive
Old Fort, NC 28762
(828) 668-4928



First off, do NOT follow GPS directions to get to this campground.  It will take you a much more difficult way that is much harder to maneuver your rig around!  Give the campground a call or visit their website for specific directions for entry into the campground.   While we didn't encounter any major issues (we went the wrong way at first), but it may cause issues for someone not as experienced with trailering.

Music Hall for Karaoke
Pool Table in Music Hall
Kids' splash pool
Located about 1500' above sea level, Sky Island retreat is located about ten minutes off of I-40 outside of Asheville, NC.  The park is neither large, crowded, or fancy - just up our alley.  At first glance, we weren't too sure if we wanted to stay here.  But they had full hookups (including sewer), free Wifi, washers and dryers, bathrooms with showers, kids splash pool, and a miniature golf course. There is also a water slide, but it wasn't in operation when we stayed.  They are also super dog friendly which really sealed the deal for us!  Nyx and Moose were allowed everywhere, and as long as they were behaving and staying close, no leashes were needed which they loved!  They quickly became campground favorites and would go visiting when the mood took them...
Moose visiting a full-time resident friend "Dane"

Moose is on the loose!
In addition to the Rv and tent camping, they also have cabins available for rent both at the base of the hill near the creek and at the top of the hill in a clearing that also provides great sunset views!  The cabins are equipped differently depending upon whether or not you're looking for rustic or luxury,  either will be sure to meet your
expectations.

Basketball Court

The Pond

Kids' play area
We liked this campground so much that, instead of the four days we were planning on staying, we extended for a total of twelve days!  Deb and her daughter little Debbie run the campground while Cory and Tim are the primary go-to guys if there's anything you need such as firewood, ice, etc.  One important note - Old Fort is a dry city.  This means if you plan on wanting a beverage or two, you'll need to stop on your way or head to the  Wal-Mart in Marion, NC if you need to fill your cooler.  Also, Deb has a rule - whatever you're drinking, it should be either in a koozie or a non-descript vessel i.e. a red solo cup or Tervis tumbler.
One of the rental cabins
Another unexpected bonus of Sky Island is their Music Hall.  On Friday nights it's Karaoke night. Don't be surprised if you see Cory or little Debbie on stage belting out some of the greatest singing this side of the Mississippi! Brunch is also available on Saturday and Sunday. In the music hall they have a stage, plenty of seating inside and out, foosball and a pool table.  Makes for a great time!

In addition to the activities, you will want to make your way around and meet some of the other campers.  We found everyone to be ├╝ber-friendly and very open to talking about the area and everything it has to offer.  A full-timer, Dane, that we befriended, recommended Straightaway Cafe for entertainment on both Wednesday nights and Friday and Saturday nights.  Although we didn't make it there this go-around, we will definitely give it a shot next time!  Live local music and a great selection of beers seems like it would be just what we like...
Spacing of sites is great compared to many places

During our stay, we spent some time exploring the nearby area to include Asheville (30 minutes away), Catawba Falls (10 minutes away), Mount Mitchell State Park (45 minutes away - the tallest mountain east of the Mississippi), South Mountains State Park (30 minutes away with lots of hiking trails and falls) and parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway (beautiful - one of America's most scenic drives).  Originally, we chose this place because it was nearby Pisgah Brewery (yes, the beer is excellent) where one of our favorite bands, JJ Grey and Mofro were playing a show. Since we wanted somewhere nearby the venue, this was a great choice as its proximity to Black Mountain, NC was less than 10 minutes away.

After being at Sky Island for a few days and realizing its great central location, it was time to check out the area.  For us, it was the perfect mix of laid-back attitude, super dog-friendly, and close to everything without being too close...

Have you stayed at Sky Island Retreat or visited any of the areas surrounding?  We would love to hear your feedback.  Leave us a comment below with your questions, thoughts, opinions.  Thank you!

Disclaimer: We are not paid writers, neither for our writing or our opinions. We represent our experiences with products, services, etc, with 100% accuracy and give our unbiased feedback.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Junction Restaurant Review - River Arts District - Asheville, NC

The Night We Died and Went to Foodie Heaven


When I first thought about writing this review, it was almost ending up as a brother's-sister's cousin's type of place.  You know the kind - a restaurant that you heard about from a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend.  But the more I back-tracked how we actually came upon The Junction, the more it came into focus.

One of the full-time non-retired RVers that we follow are Gone with the Wynns.  Nikki and Jason Wynn have been full-time RVing for over three years.  They, like us, were involved in the "rat-race" and "upscale urban life" and simply weren't understanding what the point of the American Dream was - we were instantly hooked.  After following their travels for a few months, they (along with others) inspired Libbys on the Loose and hurled us into the planning stages of how we were going to accomplish this.

Fast-forward a few months to June of this year.  If you've followed our travels, you know that we spent the month of June and the first part of July at Elmore RV Park in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Although a great location (the only RV park within city limits), the park itself offered no amenities.

View from hilltop at Sky Island Retreat and RV Park
Temperatures were soaring, so we had considered moving further from the city (Jeanine's appointments only required two days a week) but after July 4th weekend, we were unable to extend our stay so we moved on to Sky Island Retreat and RV Park.  We chose this place because one of our favorite bands was playing at Pisgah Brewery which was close by (great beers!).  We planned on having some drinks while enjoying the concert, so we wanted to be close enough to grab a taxi.  Turns out, Sky Island has been one of our favorite spots so far!  And as an added bonus: Asheville wasn't far!

Charlotte had a heck of a lot of breweries.  We barely scratched the surface when we did the brewery crawl in NoDa!  But, now we were 20 minutes outside of Asheville, North Carolina - one of the Wynn's favorite stops.  Since neither Jeanine or I had been before, we had to check it out.

The Junction
Dining area and Kitchen
















dThe Wynn's post Incredible Foodie Finds in Asheville had us hooked on Asheville right from the get-go.  Of course, Jeanine, had the French Broad Chocolate Lounge (a place the Wynns visited) on her mind right from the point we figured out how close Asheville was to where we were staying.  We happened upon (really, it was accidentally found!) French Broad Chocolate Lounge.  And, as luck would have it, right next to the Green Man Brewery!  Jeanine had chocolate, I had organic craft beer. All was well in our world!  And, the brewery was dog-friendly, so the kids got to join!  While Jeanine indulged in chocolate ecstasy, I quickly made friends with a couple who lived the area.


The bar serves craft beers and hand-crafted cocktails!
Dave Van Tassel and his wife Nicole were residents of Asheville for a number of years.  After our introductions (they had a puppy with them, too), we quickly hit it off and ended up hanging out with them for a few hours.  After a discussion about the food truck on premises, we discovered that Dave was the executive chef at The Junction restaurant located in the River Arts District of Asheville.  Since I'm somewhat of a hobby chef, Dave and I talked shop a bit (as much as I could keep up with!) and discussed Asheville and its unique obsession with food.  I also quickly discovered that Dave had passion for food and cooking - especially the process.   Dave invited us to the restaurant that week for a sample of what his restaurant had to offer.  We were giddy with anticipation!

Upon arrival at the restaurant, we were quickly seated and soaked in all the ambiance.  Pallet-topped bar and rustic wood-lined walls with Edison-type pendant lighting - industrial with a modern twist worked well in the cozy space.  In support of the River Arts District, new artists' work is showcased for a month and on a revolving basis - the decor stays as updated and as fresh as the food!

Our Menu
Summer Ceviche



For starters, we had the Summer Ceviche comprised of Lime Basil Marinade, Tomatillos, Tuna, Scallop, Calamari, Shrimp, and Salsify Ribbons.  Needless to say, it was bright, fresh, and bursting with summer flavors.  It was the perfect start as it cleansed our palates and whet our appetites for more!




Chef Van Tassel and Ramses II - a monster pork rind!



Junction Pork Rinds
Next, we had the Junction Pork Rinds.  I know, pork rinds.  But seriously, these things were absolutely, out-of-this-world crazy good!  Dave made the point to tell us that if you buy pork rinds in the store, you have at least nine different flavors to choose from - and that's just variations of barbecue!  These pork rinds were heavily dusted with a Citrus Dill Ranch powder which, along with the Crystal hot sauce accompaniment, was a perfect appetizer!

Duck Fat Roasted Chanterelles
For our next course, I have to be forthright and admit that I don't usually care for mushrooms.  I've tried different types, sizes, shapes and flavors.  The only ones that I've come to appreciate are oyster mushrooms.  Most of them, I don't care for the consistency.  I've had Chanterelle mushrooms before, but I never realized how delicate they are to cook.  After having a mushroom discussion with Dave at the Green Man, I realized that many times, I overcook mushrooms, which I definitely did the first (and only) time I cooked Chanterelles.  Oh yeah - I also did not cook them in duck fat...shame on me!  Duck Fat Roasted Chanterelles with shallots, thyme, baby heirloom tomatoes, tarragon pickled corn puree and topped with a frond of fennel.  Not only have I been transformed from a sorta-maybe-might-like-mushrooms-if-they're-done-the-right-way mushroom eater to a holy-crap-I-want-those-again mushroom eater! My parents would be proud!


Our Sampler Board
For the "Main Course", the Chef brought us a board with samplings of various items from the menu including:  Foie Gras Corn Dog, Meat & Cheese Board and the Charred Baby Octopus.(Unfortunately, you won't find this particular board on the menu.  Since we were fortunate enough to have made friends with the chef, this was a special preparation for us :) )

Dave told us about the Foie Gras Corn Dog but it wasn't anywhere near what we expected - it was better.  Between the Corn Pop (cereal) dusting and the three fancy sauces to choose from, Truffled Ranch, Saffron Honey Mustard, and Cherry Sauterne Ketchup, it was hard to choose which one was the best.  My choice: Truffled Ranch!

Not everyone is going to be a fan of baby octopus.  Had it not been for our trip (AKA culinary and cultural adventure!) to Japan a few years back, we may not have been as open to trying it, but seeing as we had raw squid and raw chicken (amongst other raw delicacies), we figured charred octopus couldn't be too bad - especially with the Chinese five spiced foie gras "snow" on top!  Oh my, how right we were!  Just the right touch of chew and texture.  Even the okra was crunchy but not to the point of stringy and flaccid - no one likes flaccid okra! Complimenting the charred flavor, the Um Plum Gelee and cool cucumber underneath rounded out each bite.

Third on the board was the Tarentaise cheese and strawberry chia seed preserves.  Placed atop the crunchy crostini bread, the perfect mini-sandwich was made.  Not only was this a delicious cheese and tasty preserve, but the cheese comes from Spring Brook Farms, which brings underprivileged children from city life and introduces them (kids) to farm life thereby educating on how food gets from 'farm-to-table' - what Asheville and its restaurant scene are all about.

Porchetta Di Testa face
Porchetta Di Testa "SO good!"
Last up on the board is a Porchetta Di Testa.  If you don't know what that is, you made be better off skipping below to the 'try it' rant.  Depending on the level of squeamishness you have with food and what you're eating, you may be turned off by this one.  Take our advice:  Try it!  Try it.  Try it!  Essentially, this is the head of a pig, completely deboned and replaced with various stuffings.  I have to admit that I don't recall exactly what this one was stuffed with, but its flavor can only be described as 'wow'.  Traditionally, the head is stuffed with garlic, rosemary, and chili before being tied and very slow-cooked.  After cooking, the meat is sliced thin and served cold.  Again, unless you are a vegetarian, or for some reason can't (or don't) eat meat, please give this one a try!  It is so delicious and so deeply flavorful that you (like us) will wonder why you never tried it before!

Last, but certainly not least, was the burger.  To call it a burger is doing a gross injustice to the Junction Burger.  Dry-aged Apple Brandy Farms beef on a potato bun with "daily accompaniments" which, for us, were housemade dill pickles, heirloom tomato, goat cheese, and caramelized onions.  Oh, and some chopped up smoked pork rib meat :)  Needless to say, this was one of the best burgers we've ever had!  Sadly, we split it, but it was probably for the best.  We already had a lot more than we planned on eating!

Should you go to The Junction?  This is not the question that you should be asking.  The question you should be asking is "How far in advance can I make a reservation?!".  Seriously, make it a point to visit this restaurant the next time you're in Asheville.  Not only are they great people working together for good causes, the food and drink are fresh and delicious.  The atmosphere and decoration are cozy and inviting with a modern-rustic edge.  And now the only sad part about this post - we didn't get to try everything on the menu.  It's bittersweet - we've had some of the best food yet, but next time it will be a different albeit new, fresh menu with Chef David's signature style.  Don't be upset if you don't get these menu items.  Since Chef David only uses the freshest, in-season ingredients, once it's gone, it's gone.  When something comes along every once in awhile (Duck Fat Roasted Chanterelles), it's a special treat, so enjoy it while you can!  We can't wait to see what's next...

- Special thanks to Executive Chef David Van Tassel for taking such great care of us!  We also want to thank the rest of the staff who worked so hard to ensure we enjoyed both our food and the experience.  And, to Charles, the owner, it was a pleasure meeting you.  We will enjoy telling as many people as we can about your place!  Thank you!



Disclaimer: We are not paid writers, neither for our writing or our opinions. We represent our experiences with products, services, etc, with 100% accuracy and give our unbiased feedback.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Manatee Hammock Campground Review - Titusville, FL

Manatee Hammock Campground 
Website
7275 South U.S. Highway 1
Titusville, FL 32780
Phone: 321-264-5083
Fax: 321-264-6468
Campground Manager, Bruce Taylor


The first piece of advice that we can offer for this campground is to book early - especially if it's during the time of year that everyone else is freezing, usually October through April. Providing you book early and/or have some flexibility in moving sites, you should not have a problem. The staff is very helpful via phone or email, so don't hesitate to give them a shout if you have any questions that we (or their website) hasn't covered.
Part of the reason his is a very popular campground is for watching rocket launches from Cape Canaveral (sorry, no more shuttles!) The viewing area is truly unbeatable as it lies at the end of a approx 200' long pier in the shape of a T, so plenty of room for lots of viewing pleasure! When booking accommodations, make sure that if your travels include the middle of March, there is a TICO Warbirds (vintage airplanes) airshow practically across the street, so the campground sells out.
As far as amenities, the campground has 152 sites with full hookups and 36 sites with electric/water only. The campground is county-owned, so maintenance is top-notch. There is a pool, laundry, horseshoe pits, fenced in dog area, and, of course, free wifi, which is big for us! In addition to these tangible amenities, there are also many other draws to this area including varied bird life (osprey, pelicans, etc) as well as aquatic life (dolphins, manatees, etc). Covering nearly all of the 125 acres is a canopy of tall pines ensuring great shade for those long summer days - this is one of the best amenities as many Florida campgrounds don't have a whole lot of tree cover.
We spent a week in the campground to start. We found most of the campers were, of course, from all over the place, as can be expected just about anywhere in Florida during the "winter". We were first introduced to a couple from my home state, Pennsylvania, whom offered us flank steak before we had a chance to set the anchors on our travel trailer! They immediately feel in love with our dogs (very easy icebreaker!) so it made the moving-in process much more enjoyable (as it was our first time). Since it was the middle of February, we were met with brisk mornings and finished off most evenings with a fireside cocktail. Even though it barely registered on the gauge as "cold" to most people staying (read: non-Floridians) we had no issue in cranking up the heat when necessary and it made the stay much more cozy.





Disclaimer: We are not paid writers, neither for our writing or our opinions. We represent our experiences with products, services, etc, with 100% accuracy and give our unbiased feedback.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Laundry fail...

Eric and I haven't had the best week.  It first started with "the accident" where the trailer was damaged when it was backed into a tree - fortunately it wasn't too bad.  We did break a window and damage our latter, but it certainly could have been worse for our first incident.  Now for my laundry fail...

We are lucky enough to have a washer and dryer in our fifth wheel.  There has been a little learning curve using it - there aren't nearly the same number of options that I am used to when doing laundry at the house.  There are only a few options on my washer such as delicate, regular, and synthetics and a variety of spin speeds.  My dryer has even fewer options.  Timed dry or permanent press (no temperature control).  For added fun, when we bought the Rv, no owner's manual for either one!

I am what my friends consider a stainmaster in training (my Mom being the stainmaster).  I cannot begin to count the number of times myself, my husband, or even my friends have gotten something on a piece of clothing that then needs to be diagnosed and then removed.  There is an art to getting usually unknown substances out of the clothes we spend our hard-earned money on.  Mostly, I have found it to be a trial and error process.  The biggest key - get to it asap - and never ever dry the clothing until you are sure the stain is completely removed.  Drying it most times will permanently set the stain.  Also, occasionally when I am at a store, grocery, Target, Walmart, pharmacy - I take a look at the laundry aisle to see what stain removers are there compared to what I have at home.  Most times, a fels-naptha bar will do the trick.  If not that, I have my secret stain weapon (my mom's recipe)!  In a regular sized spray bottle mix an inch and a half of dish soap and an inch of ammonia and then fill the rest of the bottle with water.  This mixture will last you quite a while and will get out so many things!


Anyway, back to my Laundry fail.  Despite living full time in the Rv for several months now, I still haven't managed to get used to having to check the level of the tanks (grey and black).  For any of you who have been Rving for a while - you know just how important this is!!  Typically I do a few loads of laundry a week.  This is far less than I used to do at the house as I used to separate whites, lights, darks, jeans, brights, towels, and linens.  Lots of loads!  But, at the house, this was never a problem.  I had a wonderful delay start feature so most times I would load the washer at night before bed and it would be done by the time I woke up.  I was able to dry the load by the time I was ready for work!  Now, I do darks and brights together, whites and lights together, and towels and linens together. Not the most ideal way, but I would otherwise be using quite a bit more water, electricity, and time that could be spent in other ways.  This week, after two loads of laundry, I went upstairs (our bedroom, bathroom, and laundry closet are all the front of our fiver) to empty the dryer and start the next load I was very surprised when I stepped onto a soaking wet carpet!  I couldn't believe it!  I was sure that something horrible had gone wrong.  Maybe a hose popped off the back - I had heard of that before...  But, looking into it further - and following my nose, I discovered that I had overflowed our tanks!  I had not know until now, that the washer empties into our bathroom grey tank, along with the shower and sink (thank goodness it wasn't the black tank!!!).  The result of overflowing the tank, it overflowed into our shower and then onto the carpet covered floor in the bathroom.  Ewww!


 Too bad this all happened at 10 o'clock at night - but, as I unfortunately had to say earlier this week...  It could have been a lot worse!!


Disclaimer: We are not paid writers, neither for our writing or our opinions. We represent our experiences with products, services, etc, with 100% accuracy and give our unbiased feedback.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Cast Iron in an RV?


One of the many things that differs about living in an RV than living in a house, is having to be concerned about the amount of weight in your rig.  In a home, there typically aren't any limitations to how much something can weigh. Not only do you have to be concerned about the capacity of the trailer (if you're towing), but you should also consider your tow vehicle's towing capacity.  Exceeding the capacity of either of these could lead to potentially dangerous situations - nobody wants to have to worry about that.  Not to mention, more weight equals lower miles-per-gallon.   So, "why" you ask, am I talking about weight when this is a post about cast iron? Because cast iron is the heaviest type of pot or pan you can get!  So why the h*&l would I want to bring it with me in an RV?  Because no matter what the weight, I would never leave my cast iron frying pan behind!  It's literally a member of the family.

My cast iron was just given to me this past Christmas by my grandmother.  She  (my grandmother) felt that out of everyone in the family, I would appreciate it the most.  She could not have been more right!  The best part is that it wasn't just any old cast iron, it was a Wagner original that's been in our family for decades!  There aren't a whole lot of kitchen tools that have such utility and diversity and that continue to improve the most you use them! Everything from frying an egg, to making french fries or baking a cake, a properly-seasoned cast iron has no substitute.

So what is it, exactly, that makes cast iron so great?  The even distribution of Teflon pans, but there is still question as to the safety of using non-stick pans.  We don't have an opinion one way or another on non-stick pans, but the EPA seems to think that when "heated at high temperatures, off-gassing of potentially toxic fumes may occur".  Potentially and may were two keys words used there.  We err on the side of caution - we only heat our (few) nonstick pans to the medium setting or lower.

Cast iron is slow to heat up, but heats much more evenly than most other types of pans.  In addition, cast iron retains heat for significantly longer than any other type of pan (with heating element removed). These are two of the most desirable properties that chefs want.  From slow and low simmering of a stew to red-hot searing of a thick-cut t-bone steak, cast iron can handle just about anything you throw at it with ease.

It's the seasoning that I love about cast iron.  The seasoning in cast iron is what affords it its natural non-stick properties.  The seasoning is the buildup of polymerized fats and oils - essentially completely broken down oil solids built up over time to an almost perfectly smooth surface. This coating  accomplishes the same non-stick qualities as Teflon pans without any potential health risks (and imparts delicious flavor to the foods cooked on it).  The seasoning is what allows the cooking of an egg, sunny side up, with a crunchy, tasty, golden crust - all without the sticky mess that most other types of pans give you.

I know.  I know.  There are plenty of you out there reading this wondering why I would go through the trouble of hauling a heavy, old, "dirty", greasy frying pan with me when I could just go out to a local department store and picking up a cheap non-stick pan.  Sure, I could do that.   The use of cast iron is a more work, maintenance, and upkeep.  And you can probably cook something every bit as good in a nonstick pan.  (Wow, the more I write this, the more I realize it's starting to sound more like an argument for nonstick rather than for cast)  The aforementioned properties about cast iron are tough to beat, but there are also other intangibles that you simply can't get with something like a standard, simple frying pan.  A truly good cast iron pan will endure years of punishing use and bounce back like nothing ever happened.  It is truly the workhorse of the chef's kitchen.



Some will shake their heads at me and call me crazy (it's OK, I'm getting used to it).   Why would someone go through the trouble of so much maintenance when you can use something else and get the same results faster and probably cheaper?   Others will understand that with the right equipment, cooking becomes an experience, not a chore.  For those of you that have cooked with me (or experienced my cooking), you know that there is a certain level of hands-on that I require.  This typically means that when I cook, it's usually not done in a hurry - and includes only the freshest ingredients.  All of these things are part of the experience of cooking.  Cooking for most is about the end result.  For me, the end is just as important as the journey to get there - it's about the experience of cooking.
I've read on many forums that the only way to get a truly perfectly cooked egg, sunny side up, is on a nonstick pan.  Hogwash!  It is absolutely possible to cook non-stick without the use of a Teflon-coated piece of cookware.  You can cook an egg perfectly in a regular stainless steel pan with no problem! (It just takes an extra bit of learning)  This is about cast iron - sticking isn't something that we worry about.  But without proper seasoning, cast iron is just that, iron.  Since iron is a metal, especially with protein-rich items, you will be fighting an uphill battle with food sticking to cast iron.  So how do you get the proper seasoning?  It's not difficult and doesn't take that long to do, but improperly seasoned cookware is one of the main things that turns cooks off!  Improper seasoning = food sticks!  Nobody wants that so make sure your pan is seasoned correctly.

If you buy a cast iron brand new, chances are, it's already seasoned (Lodge brand are my recommendation if you don't go with an Ebay or Etsy previously used cast).  Whether it it has been pre seasoned or not, it's a good idea to go ahead and season it anyway.  Besides, the more seasoning, the less of a chance something will stick to it!
  1. First things first, wash out your cast with hot water.  Some soap is ok, but it is not necessary to use soap.  If the pan needs to be completely reconditioned, you'll need to follow the directions here before seasoning.  Dry completely and as soon as you've washed it. 
  2. Rub all cooking surfaces with a high temperature smoke-point cooking oil.  Table here.  I use melted vegetable shortening as per Lodge's recommendation.  
  3. Set oven to 375 and place a piece of aluminum foil on the bottom of the oven (to catch drops of oil from pan)
  4. Place pan upside down on oven rack.
  5. Bake pan in the oven for at least 60 minutes.  At the end of the hour, turn the oven off, but do not remove the pan.  
  6. When the oven and pan have completely cooled, remove the pan.  
  7. Store uncovered in a dry area
  8. Reapply a coating of oil after every cleaning - Always ensure pan is dry before storing!
Lodge has a great video here that goes over how to properly season (if you're more of a visual learner) you cast iron.
Filed under : Other cast iron uses :)
So there you have it.  No, cast iron isn't for everyone, much less full-time RVers.  Considerations about weight, size, practicality, and upkeep should all be taken into account when deciding how you want to cook in your RV and what pieces of cookware you want to stock it with.  When we were living full-time in a house, I had a virtual cornucopia of pots and pans of varying sizes, shapes, materials, colors, and uses at my disposal.  RV living poses different challenges to the chef, so it's up to the chef to decide what will work best and be the most practical for their RV cooking.




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